ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - The Hamilton Bulldogs took another step toward climbing out of the West Division cellar against one of the best teams in the American Hockey League.
Andreas Engqvist scored two goals including one in overtime as Hamilton upset the Abbotsford Heat 3-2 on Sunday.
The Bulldogs lost to the Heat in a shootout Friday, but two wins prior to that along with Sunday's result has them just two points out of second place in their division.
"We lost a lot of games in shootouts and games 2-1," said Hamilton head coach Clement Jodoin. "Our defensive commitment is there and our battle level went up."
That and, for the first time since the end of October, the Bulldogs finally have a steady lineup, which had been depleted with injuries and call-ups.
"The month of November has been very tough," said Jodoin. "The difference now is we have more depth. We've been showing a lot of good things the last three weeks and now we can build up with that."
Engqvist took a pass from Olivier Fortier and fired a shot past Abbotsford's Danny Taylor just over a minute into overtime. It was his sixth of the season in 14 games.
"Andreas has been missing almost a month with a charley horse and he was called up in Montreal, but he came back with the right attitude," said Jodoin.
Aaron Palushaj also scored for Hamilton (11-13-4).
Jordan Henry and Quintin Laing had goals for Abbotsford (19-8-2), which saw its team-record six-game winning streak come to an end. But the single point they earned moved the Heat to within one point of first in the West Division ??? and the AHL lead.
"It's tough (playing from behind) two games in a row,??? said Heat captain Laing, whose team came from behind Friday to win but fell short Sunday. "Usually when you tie a game up in the third period the other team will win it, it seems that's just how it goes and today that's what played out. We were lucky to get a point."
Bulldogs goaltender Nathan Lawson made 30 saves in the win, while at the other end Taylor stopped 29 shots in his first loss as a member of the Heat.
Engqvist opened the scoring just 2:12 into the game with Abbotsford's Chris Breen off for interference. The six-foot-four Swede beat Taylor blocker side through a partial screen.
Henry's first of the season tied the game for Abbotsford midway through the opening period after the blue-liner took a feed from Dustin Sylvester and scored from the point.
Hamilton regained the lead 28 seconds into the third period while on the power play. Palushaj sniped a puck over the shoulder of Taylor from the top of the circle. Palushaj went three games without a point but now has five in seven games since returning from the Canadiens on Dec. 4.
Hamilton went 2 for 5 on the power play against the AHL's top penalty killing team, though that gave them 3 for 11 in the weekend set. Abbotsford was 1 for 7 with the man advantage.
"We did get some power-play goals ??? but usually we prevent power-play goals better than we did today," said Laing, who plays on both special teams units. "It makes it tough when you take a lot penalties like we did. It's inevitable."
It was that power-play goal that tied the game again for the Heat at 3:10. Ben Walter centred the puck to Laing down low, who beat Lawson five-hole.
The saves of the game came with three minutes to go in regulation after Palushaj missed the net on a breakaway and Brian Willsie almost banged the puck in the other side but Taylor came across to make a toe save.
The Heat killed a penalty in overtime but their fate was sealed by Engqvist's goal.
"Small breakdowns, they get inside, they get a good shot, that's kind of how the whole night went," said Laing. "We gave up too many quality chances."
Hamilton plays next on Dec. 26 when they visit the Toronto Marlies. The Heat visit the Grand Rapids Red Wings on Dec. 21.